Over the past few years, a key theme in my life (and my mindfulness practice) has focused on exploring what it means to be home.
It all began around three years ago when I had a revelatory experience during a vacation. On the last day of my trip (and my 30th birthday), I briefly visited the Jim Thompson House. Although I was there for hardly an hour, it felt like lifetimes came by and went as I walked around the property. Absorbing the history of the place and the man offered me a vision of what my own life and the home I craft it in might look like. This vision has served as a catalyst for me to break the shackles I felt held back by and dream up a life that felt authentic to me. A life spent doing more of what I love, around those I love, and in the land I love.
Within a few months, the vision started to crystalize. I mustered the courage to quit my job and moved back to my hometown to craft the life I had been envisioning. Wanting to maintain autonomy, I decided that although I was moving to my hometown, I would stay on my own. My mother helped me find an apartment that aligned well with my vision for a home. Located in the rural outskirts of my hometown within a spiritual community, the apartment gave me exactly the space I needed to feel at home on a physical level.
Interestingly, as time passed, I found myself once again not feeling at home. Although I was finally living out my dream in a house that aligns with it, my mind was playing tricks to make me feel not at home again. For instance, I struggled with insecurity about my savings running out and the possibility of having to move again. At the start of this year, it dawned on me that perhaps the root cause of me not feeling at home was less physical but more mental. With this awareness, I decided to take a closer look to explore what it means to be home at a deeper and spiritual level.
This exploration took the form of digging deep into the reservoir of wisdom gained throughout my life (whether through books or experiences). It eventually opened me up to the notion that home is indeed not an address but rather a state of mind (or being!) I realized that to be home at the most fundamental level is to be at ease with the present moment. To find stillness within, despite the chaos of the world around. This doesn’t necessarily translate into denying or downplaying what is happening on the physical level. Instead it simply means acknowledging that there is a self that does remain unaffected by it all. A self beyond the narrative of polarity only our mind knows to create. A self that finds itself home even as it tirelessly wanders the weary wilderness.
Of course, it is not like a switch turned on. I still end up not feeling at home. What has worked during such times is to extend mindful awareness towards forces and elements that make me feel not at home. Once I have identified them, the next step has been to pause and shift my awareness away from these forces and elements and extend it inward towards the self that remains oblivious to it all. The self that is always home.
After 33 years of struggling to feel at home (both physically and mentally), I feel grateful to have stumbled upon it on both levels.